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Lukas Science Essay N#1

Lukas Science Essay N#1

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Published by: samgnerre on May 20, 2013
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LukasAeschlimannZahirRobbSTAR PrepAcademyEssay: How Humans and Robots Can Work Together to Explore MarsMany people believe that humans and robots are completeopposites, with different origins, attributes, skills, or abilities. Like nightand day, or human and Martian. How could such opposites worktogether to do anything, especially something as complex and delicateas exploring another planet, Mars? Quite smoothly. Humans and robotsare not necessarily opposite, but rather dependent on one another fornumerous tasks in varied situations. Humans and robots togetherprovide more options than would be possible if you settled for just oneof them. In other words, there are myriad ways in which humans androbots can work together to explore Mars. In fact, they have asymbiotic relationship that is already at work helping to do just that.One example of this symbiosis is in the remote operation of theMars rovers, mobile robots placed on the surface by immobile robotscalled landers. The humans remotely operating the rovers from Earthdepend on them to gather scientific data and images of Mars. Therovers, on the other hand, depend on the humans commanding themin order to move and interact with their environment. Thiscollaboration between humans on Earth and robots on Mars isproducing new discoveries almost daily about the chemistry, weather,
 
and geography of Mars.Currently, JPL and NASA are working together with robots to pavethe way for humans to go to Mars. For example, two missions, the MarsReconnaissance Orbiter and the 2001 Mars Odyssey, are searching forusable resources of a specific substance: water. Water is, essentially,the key to life. Humans can go for long periods of time without food,but can go only for a significantly shorter period of time without water.While water has been found already on Mars in the form of ice,scientists have not found resources of it that they could extract liquidwater from, or figured out a way to convert it from the ice. The 2001 Mars Odyssey is also examining Mars’s radiation. If weunderstand the radiation of Mars, we can know what kind of effects onastronauts and their equipment the UV radiation from the sun,unhampered thanks to the lack of ozone on Mars, would have. It’s not just the radiation itself we have to worry about. Superoxides have beenfound in the soil on Mars. A superoxide is a compound that attacksorganic molecules when exposed to ultraviolet radiation, creatingpotential complications to long-term habitation on Mars. It is possiblethat there are additional exotic hazards, and if so, we need to
know
.Successful scientific exploration can only be achieved by anticipatingas many surprises as realistically possible.Orbiters other than the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are helpingus understand Mars’s geology and climate, due to their bird’s eye view
 
of Mars. Mars’s crater and volcano filled geology and its dust-stormgenerating climate should both be understood incredibly well in orderto find an optimal landing site and to prepare for any surprises theweather of Mars might throw the astronauts’ way. The orbiters canhelp us gain that kind of understanding.Now let’s imagine, within the restrictions of reality, how humansand robots will work together when we eventually do send humans toMars. I think that their symbiotic relationship will be even moreeffective. A human on Mars could control and adjust the robot betterthan a human on Earth because they would have a better view of theenvironment, or of any problem encountered by the robot. If a duststorm covers the robot in dust, causing the camera to be blocked,people on Earth would not be able to properly manage the situation. Ahuman on Mars, on the other hand, would be right there, could see theproblem much better, and thus be able either to direct people on Earthin how to operate the robot, or simply remove the dust themselves. The presence of robots would also make it easier for humans todo science. When a human first arrives on Mars, acquiring the waterfrom previously discovered sources would be of prime importance.Instead of a human doing the job, a robot could be sent to find andextract the water. This would allow the human to start conductingscientific research that much earlier. Furthermore, robots could beused to perform other ongoing tasks related to basic survival, which

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